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Publisher's Summary

This audiobook could upset a lot of people. It is the first to state the obvious: Marketing is a mess. Jack Trout intends to make the people who made the mess very uncomfortable. Only then will they begin to look for the obvious solutions that will separate their products from their competitors - in a way that is equally obvious to customers. All this comes with no jargon, no numbers, no complexity, and a great deal of common sense. The search for any marketing strategy is the search for the obvious.

We are in an era of killer competition. Category after category is perceived as a commodity. This fact is the central reason the critically important function of marketing is such a mess. It's also why the average chief marketing officer barely lasts beyond two years in the job.

In this audiobook, marketing guru Jack Trout clears up the confusion that surrounds the marketing profession. Instead of focusing on segmentation or customer retention or search engine optimization or data mining, marketers should be searching for that simple, obvious differentiating idea. This search should begin with what Trout considers the best book ever written on marketing - even though it was published in 1916 and isn't about marketing. Entitled Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Business Man, it lays out the five tests of an obvious idea that will lead you to the right marketing strategy for any product. Trout goes beyond the obvious by laying out what gets in the way of this search, like the Internet, advertising people, marketing people, Wall Street, research, even the future. These are all huge distractions that keep marketers from their most important task: differentiating their products.

To bring these principles for finding the obvious to life, Trout finds obvious solutions to today's troubles for the likes of GM, Coke, Wal-Mart, newspapers, and the bewildering beer business.

©2008 Kack Trout (P)2009 Gildan Media Corp

What listeners say about In Search of the Obvious

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard McLain
  • 30-11-2009

Excellent Marketing Book

I have listened to most of the marketing books on Audible and most have fallen short of my expectations. This one, however, is a great take on what's going on in the current marketplace as well as offering suggestions on how to fix it. There are several current real world case studies as well as examples from marketings past. This book is worth way more than 6 hours of your time and 1 credit.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • J
  • 15-01-2010

As I've Written In The Past

Think-piece macro marketing, best for CEO broad scope and non-marketing types wanting to explore concept. Good audio quality and perfectly fine narration.

I respect Jack Trout and the work he did with Al Ries in 1981's Positioning, it was important then and remains so today. This new book seems a lazy re-tread of old copy. The author is upfront that the contents are from prior articles at; but much of the material is repeated, kind of like seeing the same TV commercial back to back - you question did they mess up or "is this all they have?". If the repeated material was eliminated and General Motors only discussed once this book would be half as big.

Plenty of big-picture information but few modern suggestions. It's as if he is discussing the merits of the original Pong game while everyone is playing Halo. Much is Fortune 100 related but I was able to pull out a nugget or two for my small business.

There's a bit of Gordon Ramsey going on here - "I know best, do these two things and you'll be famous like me". The author could take a lesson from himself and step back and listen to how he comes across. Again and again we hear about how companies don't listen to him, other consultants have adapted his ideas and the world would basically be a better place if we'd just do it his way. Rather than coming across magnanimous and proud that his important ideas have been found, accepted as fact and expanded upon by others he whines and is snarky throughout the book. It's like being trapped with an insufferable dinner partner who just won't shut up.

I was prepared to give the book three stars because whatever misgivings I have I still think Jack Trout's basic ideas and work are peerless and important, but the last hour and a half delves into political and social drivel and I had to drop it to two stars. Maybe read his original "Positioning" instead.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Scott Ross
  • Scott Ross
  • 08-03-2014

Some Good Information But Some Laughable Positions

What would have made In Search of the Obvious better?

This book makes some valid points about what the aim of marketing needs to be; namely, selling products. The book begins with some relatively useful tests for whether you are on track with creating messaging that will resonate and result in product sales. It also points out some case studies of brands that got off track. However, not too far into the book Trout begins to make a fool of himself. The entire tone of the book is somewhat "I'm smarter than everyone else," arrogance, and this bites him when he begins to mock certain "en vogue" notions. It's shocking to me that this book was published in 2008, because his lack of comprehension about the transformation of everything in our digital and social media age would make you think he had written it in the 1990's. For instance, he overtly makes fun of predictions that the Yellow Pages and Video Rental stores would become obsolete. He comments that iPhones do "media" well but are terrible phones. And he can't imagine why you'd want to have a device that does everything in one. He mocks the idea of convergence, even going so far as to make fun of the concept of a printer, copier, and fax machine all-in-one.

There is zero discussion of social media as a component of marketing strategy.

Moreover, he criticizes marketing messages that are emotional, stating that marketing messages should be logical. He uses examples of brands that had strong slogans that they replaced with weak slogans to make his point. The one has nothing to do with the other. You can have a strong slogan and an emotionally appealing message. And it's an age-old truism that people buy emotionally and justify logically. Trout seems to not understand that.

This book just seems wildly out of touch in lots of places.

Would you ever listen to anything by Jack Trout again?

Not sure.

What about Sean Pratt’s performance did you like?

The read is good.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

There are some very valid points made about the need for CEO's to be engaged directly in the development of their brand, the insanity of marketing firms forgetting that they are selling versus making short films, etc.

Any additional comments?

I can't recommend this book based on the current state of our social media, digitally dominated, integrated world.

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